Bento Box Bits of everything

30May/071

Sasquatch 2007 – Saturday

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Longest Saturday ever. The adventure began when Jerry and Karma flew up from SF Thursday evening. Sasquatch was the goal but they wanted to see Seattle too so they flew up a day before Guru. This time we were more prepared for Sasquatch. Last year we were jealous of those with lawn chairs and their preparedness for anything; so on Friday we hit up REI to stock up on chairs and towels, then hit up a grocery store to make enough food for the entire day. Many thanks to Karma for splurging on groceries and preparing all the food for the day.

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Saturday morning we woke around 6am and left around 7. I overestimated the drive and we got there at 9:30am. The gates opened at 11 so we had plenty of time to relax beforehand. Being first in line has its perks: choice seating and random freebie crap. There was some kind of interpretive dance before these howling girls gave away cds, whispering "A gift from the pack..." o...k.

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Onto the music - random pics later. I'll write about the acts I care to remember. I have lots more pictures on my flickr photoset; there were a few bands that were forgettable.

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Mix Master Mike started it off with his turntablism - not really my flavor because he changes tempo and style so often that rhythm is barely established and understood before he moves on. I appreciate turn-tablism and beat juggling but his set did not move me. Just because you can mix System of a Down over a break beat doesn't mean you should.

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I was very glad to discover another great local hip-hop artist like last year's Blue Scholars. Gabriel Teodros rocked the tiny Yeti stage. Very energetic posse and thoughtful rhymes that could actually be understood. At the same time on the mainstage the Saturday Knights were a lackluster hip-hop/metal band with horrible acoustics.

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I'm still kicking myself for missing most of The Slip's set, but I'm glad that while I was walking there I was able to hear them finish out Even Rats.

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Ah yes Ozomatli! The band I was most looking forward to seeing. They had so much energy that I wish more of the crowd was at the main stage to appreciate them. I love them even more now and will definitely be blasting them in the car. After they finished their set, they brought down their percussion and trumpets into the crowd and had fun playing around with the crowd while roadies were getting the stage ready for the next artist.

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Aqueduct was a fun discovery. Energetic rock with funk flavor, with songs the length of a typical pop song. Seemed like 2 minutes or less per song. Sasquatch never disappoints when it introduces me to new music. I stacked five chairs on top of each other in the beer garden for this pic.

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Manu Chao and Radio Bemba Sound System gave an incredibly energetic performance at dusk. We thought each band member looked like someone famous: Colin Farrell, Robert DeNiro, and Steve-O. Another great introduction to Latin rock - although most of the lyrics (from the English parts I understood) seemed to be mainly "world go crazy~~~" and "marijuuuuuuana"

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Many times I listen to a band before seeing them live and then afterward develop a much larger appreciation for the music. Arcade Fire is one such band - I wish I could see them again to cheer even louder than before. They have incredible talent and an awesome sound - very impressive ability to sound tight and appear chaotic at the same time. I listened to their album again today and thought the sound of the live performance was a million times better. The instruments sounded much more alive and not flat like on the album.

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Bjork is another artist I did not have an appreciation for until after I saw her live performance. I admit I was whining to leave early because I was exhausted during her set (it was past 12:30am), but I was able to hear some songs that caught my ear. Guru later informed me that the live performance she gave that night is nothing like her albums because of the addition of the French horns on the stage and the remixed sound. Bjork warmed everyone's hearts every time she said "thank you very much" in her accented nymph-like voice.

With 12 hours of music comes lots of downtime... some random pictures

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Many many more pictures of more acts in my flickr set

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28May/0715

Mod #2 Retrofitting RNS-E into my 2006 Audi A4

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Updated: I've been receiving a lot of email about where I purchased the unit. I got it off ebay. The seller's name was Naviworld24, or Navi-world24, or Naviworld-24. One of those. Not sure if that seller even exists anymore. Good luck!

I've always regretted not getting the awesome touch-screen navigation offered in the Acura CL-S; so I swore that the next car I get would definitely have navi. My desires were amplified when I moved to the Seattle area and had no idea where anything was - to this day I still get lost frequently. When it came time for a different car I was at first adamant about getting one with navigation; but upon learning how rare it that was, I looked into after market units and discovered that is was relatively easy to retrofit an OEM Audi Navigation Plus RNS-E into my car. Thankfully it was mostly plug and play with a harness adapter and the rest is just figuring out the details. I first prepped myself for weeks by reading thread after thread on navplus.us. Here's a link to the main retrofit FAQ/quicklinks I decided to write a guide with lots of pictures to aid others in retrofitting a unit - since many posts on the naviplus forum did not provide enough pictures.

I ordered my unit off Ebay (email me if you want details); and the unit came from Germany a few days after my paypal payment cleared. I saved a significant amount of money by purchasing on ebay and not from a dealer. The ebay seller provided everything I needed for the install, the head unit removal keys, harness adapter (I was asked to choose between Bose and non-Bose), code card, 2007 DVDR map, and a cdr of the PDF manual.

My car is a 2006 Audi A4 2.0T with premium package, comfort package, sport suspension, multifunction steering wheel, Sirius Satellite Radio (Part No. 8E0 057 593D which is REQUIRED for compatibility with RNS-E, use this guide to make sure you have the right one), and Bose audio package.

With those things in mind, I made sure the RNS-E would be ready to accept my Sirius tuner and be compatible with my Bose system.

Onto the install itself - thankfully my friend Jerry was in town to assist in my install; having an extra pair of hands definitely sped up the entire process (which took no longer than 30 minutes)

We first started by using blue painter's tape to protect any areas that could possibly be scratched or scuffed during the install process. I also laid down small towels around. It was particularly useful to have a towel on the shifter since that's where we rested the units quite often.
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I had planned to place the GPS antenna behind my instrument cluster so while we were at it I taped the steering column for later.
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We inserted the 4 removal keys into the slots with the longer sides of the key on the outside of the unit. The keys click into place firmly. This is where having an extra set of hands will be useful - we both pulled on the keys are the sides and we were able to slide the unit out with a few firm tugs. Jerry balanced the unit on the shifter while I removed the plugs behind it. Below are pictures of the removal and the resulting plugs behind it. Please take notice of the yellow Fakra adapter (I believe this is called Fakra...).
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The next step was to start attaching the plugs to the harness adapter. This is where we ran into a small roadblock. I didn't quite understand how the yellow plug would attach to the adapter harness, but it turns out we had to remove the yellow part in order to plug the silver portion into the white one on my harness. The white plug that came with the harness had an empty slot next to it where we attached the silver plug portion. A flat-head screwdriver helped with removing the small purple tabs on each colored plug.
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Once everything was attached, I plugged in the GPS antenna, threw it outside so it had a clear view of the sky, and turned on the unit to test it. Worked like a charm! I inserted the DVD navi disc and then hit "dvd-info" to see it was able to pick up satellites. Yep. We were good to go. The next part was to route the GPS antenna into a suitable location. I read the space behind the instrument cluster was good; so to begin we had to remove the lower dash on the driver's side. It was held in by 3 screws and two clips. Check the flickr gallery for visible notes on the locations of these screws.
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Taking off the lower dashboard allows easier access to push the instrument cluster from the rear in order to place the GPS antenna in the cubby hole on the metal frame of the car. To remove the instrument cluster, first pop off the small trim piece above the steering column (see flickr pic notes); there will be two torx screws size 20 that need to be unscrewed.
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Once those are out, the instrument cluster can be pushed out from behind. I was not able remove the cluster entirely because I couldn't figure out how to unplug the plugs from the cluster; but there was enough room for my hand to reach in and place the GPS onto the metal frame behind the cluster. Once that's done, just route the GPS antenna cable through the lower dash area and into the radio hole, plug everything in, put it all back together and you're DONE! The car still needs to be communicated through VAGCOM to tell it that it has an RNS-E now; I haven't done so yet, but I will soon. Thankfully the unit I got was already ready for my MFSW (multifunction steering wheel), Sirius radio, and BOSE (the particular harness). With my GPS antenna placement I am able to pick up 6-8 satellites easily.

The unit comes with MP3 playback through the two SD card slots behind the screen.
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MP3 playback in action
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The navigation lagged about 300m behind my actual location for the first hour or so, but after a few trips it has automatically calibrated itself and is now accurate. I am going to get into the engineering mode to double check the speeds it is receiving through the car CANBUS versus the GPS info. A picture of it in action - it features a night and day mode for better visibility. This picture is a bit washed out though.
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The entire installation took about 30 minutes not counting the troubles we had with the crappy tools. Many thanks to my buddy Jerry who helped immensely with the installation and fixing of my crappy tools. If you are reading this guide to aid in your own retrofitting, please remember to ask the seller for the correct harness and make sure the unit is coded correctly to your car - I think these two things are probably the most important aspects to ensure a smooth and easy installation.

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20May/070

Kasala 20th Anniversary Sale

I haven't thought about decorating or furnishing my house in a long time - got preoccupied with choosing a new car instead. Now that the car stuff is out of the way it's time for me to start thinking again. Kasala is having a big sale until June 30th, so that will coincide nicely with my close date. They have many classic modern Italian offerings. Here's a PDF of their sale.

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19May/072

Mod #1

Mod #1 complete. Suntek Carbon 35 all around. Suntek's Carbon line won't interfere with any frequencies & electronics. This 35% tint is darker than other brands' 35%; would really register 30-32 on a light meter. Great job by Jay's Tint Shop in Kirkland.

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